FLIM FLAM IN AMERICA
By Joe Kress
June 9, 2007
This has been a bad day for me and so was yesterday. Today, I received a notice that my annual home insurance premium will increase by $500.00 over last yearís premium because the insurance company said that the value of my house increased from $230,000 to $245,000. I then wondered if my insurance company took into consideration that there is a housing market glut and prices are dropping faster than leaves in the fall.
Sooo, I decided to call the companyís home office to find out why I should pay the increase.
After several irritating tries by punching several keys to reach the right office and speak to a real person that understands English, I found a very smart lady who had answers to all of my questions. I guess thatís why insurance companies use women to solve problems instead of using males from India when we have problems with our computers.
I must say, Debby had a voice as smooth as silk, courteous, knowledgeable, quick to make a logical reply which left me agreeing to pay not only the $500 dollar increase, because after she checked her computer she informed me of the cost to replace my house, even with a self-insured increase in my $1,000 deductible, will be an additional $50,000 in material and labor. To replace my house the gurus in the actuary department figured replacement will be $295,000 instead of the $245,000 in this year's billing and above that $230,000 figure in the previous yearís billing statement. But that isnít the worst part; Debby informed me that the actuary estimate on the value of my house was based on 2003 figures and not 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007 valuations.
I was told that the insurable cost is not only dependent on the market value of the house but on the material and labor costs to replace my house. I forgot to counter that with a smart aleck remark like ďdonít you figure that the contractors use illegal labor at bottom of the barrel prices?Ē That, of course, wouldnít gain any points on my side, since who am I to question the wizard actuaries?
Debby was helpful, by suggesting that I cancel the collision coverage on my 1997 Lincoln and replace it with comprehensive insurance for fire and theft to save $80.00 annually. My $30,000 dollar, 1997 Lincolnís replacement payoff would now amount to only $8.000, if it were totaled so why have collision insurance? This lady not only handles home insurance with the expertise of an actuary, but was able to find a calming potent that mitigates the shock of increasing the cost of my homeowners insurance by selling me a replacement policy on my car. I hung up the phone feeling stupid and realizing that my phone call to save money ended up with an additional 20% payment increase minus the loss of my collision insurance, a new coverage on my old car which provided an $80.00 offset for the $200 dollars increase on my homeowners policy. Whew! Remind me not to talk to another smart insurance woman until next year.
The fact is that inflation doesnít help when oneís home needs replacement and the insurance policy is not keeping up with the cost of replacement of a house that may sell on the market for a lower price. I now understand why homes are not being replaced in New Orleans Parish.
Yesterday was even more frustrating.
Three weeks ago, I received a summary of where I stand on a planned premium life insurance policy for $50,000 and noted that since I completed my 79th year and headed for the magic 80th the reserves needed to continue my policy increased by $2,183.00 and the cash value I had in the policy went down from last yearís $1,224.00 to a measly $294.00.
Those figures made me wonder just how much my premium would increase, so I called a man in the customer service department who had an accent that caused me to adjust my hearing aid several times to understand what he was trying to say. All I wanted to know was how much this yearís premium would cost me and to provide me with the information. He said he would put it in the mail that very day. I was happy.
Two weeks later, I hadnít received the information, so I called again, and again I talked to another person with a rapidly speaking foreign accent who eagerly assured me that he would send the information before I told him what I wanted him to do. I was slightly apprehensive, but content that after several attempts he understood the question. Ten days passed and still no information. Yesterday, I receive a $110.00 refund of my monthly allotment to the company, so I called again and this time a young thing with a sweet voice answered and calmly told me that the refund was sent to me because it was not sufficient to cover this monthís premium and that my policy would be cancelled at the end of the month. She was helpful by stating that if I would mail a check for $420.00 immediately, she would assure me that the policy would remain in effect for the next two months and in two weeks I will receive the information on what future premiums I must pay until my next birthday.
Had it not been for my own initiative, my $50,000 policy would have been cancelled at my old age at a time that I am experiencing angina pains from the stress. My 76 year old wife would place poison ivy on my coffin, if that policy lapsed.
I mailed the check and asked for a return receipt from the post office, but if the company is so callous as to purposely not inform its policyholder that the insurance premium is about to increase and then purposely ignore two requests for information as to the amount of increase, how can I be assured that the company will hold back crediting my payment? Is there a lawsuit in my future? I hope not because legal fees will eat up my finances faster than the insurance companyís delaying tactics.
So, whatís next? Is my health insurance about to be flim-flammed? Is my military pension to be dissolved by congress? Already, the taxes on my home have increased last year by a whopping 79% and to top that off, my grocery bill and my gasoline bills are stratospheric as the dollar tumbles. Oil producing countries are converting to euros as the preferred payment for their oil. It takes $1.365 to purchase one euro and Chairman of the Fed. Ben Bernanke canít manipulate the dollar by printing more dollars or increase interest rates for fear of increasing the already rampant inflation.
I want my mommy.
© 2007 Joe Kress - All Rights Reserved
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The "Curmudgeon", Joseph H. Kress, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret) obtain a B.S. in Business Administration, with a major in economics and minor in accounting.
He served in England and Viet Nam where he received the Bronze Star during the TET Offensive, then he was appointed Chief of Supply for two state-side assignments; the DOD's Defense Disposal Agency where he was chief of disposal operations for all of Southeast Asia, based at CINCPAC Headquarters in Hawaii. He retired from Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio as chief of supply with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the age of 52, and now he and his wife reside in Summerville, S.C.
leaving the military, he was involved in political campaigns, writing
articles for the local papers, and as a realtor.